Before Friday, you probably wouldn’t have heard someone say, “I’m really looking forward to this Thor movie.” But! Director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) was given rare authorship over the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most struggling franchise, and suddenly Thor: Ragnarok might be in the running for best Marvel movie ever. To resolutely determine that (and more), The Ringer staff came together after their viewings to answer several questions.
1. What is your tweet-length review of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?
Andrew Gruttadaro: In the scope of this convoluted, overstuffed movie universe, Ragnarok felt extremely dispensable in a really nice way.
Sean Fennessey: Just a bit of MCU Norse play, hammer-free and Hela fun. (I’m sorry.)
Chris Ryan: This must have been the most expensive collection of ad-libs in Hollywood history.
Amanda Dobbins: There sure were a lot of children at my screening!
Alison Herman: That a franchise's strongest movie is essentially a spoof of the franchise doesn't say great things about its overall health—but it does make for a good movie!
Kate Halliwell: I haven’t walked out of a movie this attracted to every member of a main cast since The Man From U.N.C.L.E. No regrets.
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Fennessey: Though spoiled in the trailer, Thor’s chipper reading when he learns that his opponent in gladiatorial battle will be the Hulk—“We know each other! He’s a friend from work!”—is one of the year’s best lines, and Chris Hemsworth’s best Marvel moment. And its origin may make you like it even more.
K. Austin Collins: Hulk’s jaded temper tantrums.
Gruttadaro: Pretty much the entire sequence on Sakaar, but I was especially into the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory interpolation.
Dobbins: I'm here for Chris Hemsworth being charming and/or Cate Blanchett getting paid, so I'm going with the throne room scene. You get some punchy Hemsworth; you get some campy Blanchett; it only lasts for three minutes and there are no ugly rainbow-space shots. I liked it!
Ryan: The glorified Jimmy Kimmel Live! sketch with Matt Damon was fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed when Cate Blanchett ripped Thor’s eye out, but I am partial to the Doctor Strange cameo, despite how totally unnecessary it was.
Halliwell: Most people in my theater seemed to think Matt Damon’s cameo was the funniest part of the play scene, but casting the lesser-known third Hemsworth brother as “Thor” was an absolute genius move, even if (by design) few people recognized him on sight.
Miles Surrey: Pretty much everything that happened on Sakaar—the Thor-Hulk gladiator fight, Thor’s banter with Valkyrie and Korg, Jeff Goldblum as Space Jeff Goldblum—was a total delight. We probably could’ve gone without seeing the Hulk’s CGI butt, though.
Herman: Always see big comedies in a theater, if only to get a contact high from the 30-second giggle fit that ensues when Mark Ruffalo dramatically jumps out of a plane … and then smacks into solid ground because he didn’t turn into the Hulk in time.
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Halliwell: I really disliked Doctor Strange, and his shoehorned cameo in the beginning of Ragnarok made me realize that I might just hate the character himself. The less we see of him in upcoming Marvel movies, the happier I’ll be.
Gruttadaro: Maybe I say this too often, but: This is a movie that did not need Benedict Cumberbatch.
Ryan: The part when Tessa Thompson and Thor jumped from spaceship to spaceship kicking ass, and I realized we still had to go back to Asgard. Asgard isn’t a place, it’s an entire act in a movie.
Collins: Benedict Cumberbatch—who’s great, but not very charismatic when even he can’t figure out why he's here.
Dobbins: Shout-out to Jeff Goldblum, but everything involving him, his planet, or the contrived Hulk crossover was too Guardians for my taste. (Blech at the mere thought of Guardians.) The 6-year-olds behind me loved it, though.
Herman: Jokes are this movie's first priority, sometimes for the good—finally, someone realizes that no one cares about detailed mythology or nonsensical plot points—and sometimes for the bad. Realizing your destructive alter ego has taken over your body for two years is some really scary shit, and Thor: Ragnarok doesn't have the bandwidth to process Bruce Banner's trauma. It's a minor point, but the MCU runs on characters, and borderline parody can't do (and isn't interested in) lasting, emotional character work.
Surrey: Much as I love seeing goth Cate Blanchett shoot the shit in a Marvel movie, her character’s exposition dumps with bald Karl Urban was the generic supervillain backstory Ragnarok didn’t really need.
Fennessey: I’m not totally sure we needed that Asgard slaughter with Hela’s army of the undead. But there’s always one gratuitous “Wow, they’re just murdering things” moment in every Marvel movie.
4. Is there a new leader in the Chris Wars?
Herman: Apologize to Chris Pine this instant. (Hemsworth is a respectable runner-up.)
Ryan: Everyone else is fighting for second.
Gruttadaro: The Chris Wars are certainly guilty of recency bias, so of course there is. But let me tell you: CHRIS PINE IS COMING.
Dobbins: Hemsworth has been in the running since we started this, and if you do not believe me, go watch Rush and Ghostbusters (2016).
Fennessey: I am firmly Team Pine, but Hemsworth has been elevated to Chris, the Second.
Surrey: Hemsworth is the new Chris Wars leader, but the cyclical nature of the Chris Wars means he’ll probably hold the title for less than a year.
Halliwell: Please. Let me know when Hemsworth, Pine, or Pratt start dragging Trump on Twitter, publicly feuding with Nazis, and sharing delightful dog tweets with the world. Until that day comes … Oh Captain, my Captain.
Collins: There has only ever been one Chris.
5. Finish the sentence: “Cate Blanchett as Hela was …”
Collins: I am preemptively blocking anyone who makes a “Hella” pun. (She was fine.)
Herman: … the future winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10.
Fennessey: … having fun, and that’s probably enough. This isn’t her movie, and it never has to be, so she’s free to chew the fat on the edges of the script.
Gruttadaro: … extremely seething goals.
Surrey: … a sentient Hot Topic sales rack.
Halliwell: … having the time of her life. Cate hasn’t been this simultaneously campy and menacing since 2015’s Cinderella, and I live for it.
Dobbins: … fun enough. Apropos of nothing, did you know that Cate Blanchett's next film credits include Ocean's Eight, the Andy Serkis Jungle Book, and How to Train Your Dragon 3? How do I get an invitation to the castle that she is building?
6. Pick your favorite supporting character.
Dobbins: I know I already disowned the planet from Wall-E, but I did like the dumb rock guy with the pamphlets.
Gruttadaro: Shout-out to my guy Korg, who is living proof that I will laugh at any demure thing with a New Zealand accent.
Halliwell: Do Idris Elba’s dreads count as a character? What about Idris Elba’s biceps? No? Then it has to be Korg, who provided 99 percent of my laugh-out-loud moments. Vive la revolution!
Fennessey: Director Taika Waititi’s double-dip as the rock creature Korg isn’t just comic relief, he’s canon.
Herman: The director casting himself as the most charming character in the movie is cheating, so my vote goes to Jeff Goldblum.
Surrey: Jeff Goldblum’s glorious leisure spaceship. A vessel used for orgies that also sets off fireworks when you press the “Birthday” button—easily the best ship in the MCU.
Ryan: TFW you brought the melting stick.
7. Where would you rather live: Asgard, Sakaar, or that tiny spit of land in Norway?
Herman: ASGARD IS A PEOPLE, NOT A PLACE. Gimme that spaceship so I can travel the universe under Chris Hemsworth's ludicrously accented command.
Fennessey: Is there a sublet available in Doctor Strange’s Manhattan Chamber of Cloaks?
Dobbins: The only answer is Greenscreen Norway.
Ryan: I would love to live in pre-apocalypse Asgard, but I am probably doomed to blog about MMA for Barstool Sakaar.
Halliwell: I love a bold makeup trend, so I’d have to go with Sakaar. Imagine the YouTube tutorials: “Grandmaster’s Blue Chin Stripe: Get the Look for Less!”
Surrey: I’m pretty sure Asgard was destroyed, so probably not Asgard. And as much as I’d like a giant holographic Jeff Goldblum addressing me, the streets of Sakaar are full of literal garbage. Also, not that space gladiator fights aren’t dope, but wouldn’t those get boring as your only form of entertainment? So, by process of elimination, I’ll be setting up a cabin in the Norwegian countryside. All I need is a few good books, Wi-Fi, cozy sweaters and my cat, then I’m all set.
Collins: I would need a sense of the local cuisine for each location to make an informed decision. Which populace loves meat the most? Which place isn’t still trying to make kale chips a thing?
8. Is ‘Thor: Ragnorak’ the funniest Marvel movie yet? If not, what is?
Fennessey: Yes. Thor’s prominence in Marvel’s firmament shifted from inexplicable (Did you forget that he had his own movie before Captain America?) to goofily essential pretty darned fast.
Gruttadaro: Long answer: Watching almost every other Marvel movie, laughing has felt pained, and a bit performative, like, “Oh, look how cute it is that the beautiful and muscular men are telling jokes and being ironic. At least they tried, ha ha.” Ragnarok was just very funny and charming. So, short answer: yes.
Halliwell: Every slapstick, brightly hued second of Ragnarok owes itself to Guardians of the Galaxy, which did space humor not only first, but better. (Ragnarok definitely beats GOTG Vol. 2, though.)
Surrey: I’m gonna give a slight edge to Guardians Vol. 2, but look, I was still laughing my ass off throughout Ragnarok.
Collins: This question is insulting to working comedians, who never get cast in these movies but should. (But yes, it’s the funniest.)
Ryan: This movie gets less and less funny the more people talk about how funny it was. It was definitely amusing, but Spider-Man: Homecoming’s humor felt more baked into the actual story. There were points in Ragnarok where it seemed like the actors and filmmakers were actively mocking the idea of the movie’s existence, which … I agree? But I don’t like the idea of being the punch line, just because I paid for my ticket.
9. What is the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Ryan: Strong and nonsensical. The farther out into space and other dimensions it goes, the less urgent and relevant it feels. Though, what do I know?
Collins: Still mega-rich!
Dobbins: Fully Disney-fied, which is fine, as long as we can stop taking these seriously. Movies for children make money! Go with God, and leave me out of it.
Surrey: I keep thinking the MCU will run out of steam; that there’s only so many ways they can shake up the superhero formula before you see a new trailer and think, “Meh, I’ve seen this all before.” I still think that day is coming.
By the way, I’ll see you opening night for Black Panther.
Halliwell: As strong as ever, if you ask me. However you feel about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok were two of the most fun, lighthearted Marvel installments yet. If Justice League ends up being yet another overly dark, fun-deficient DC fail, Marvel’s 2017 will look even better in comparison—Wonder Woman or no.
Fennessey: Trucking along. The success—creatively and financially—of a third Thor movie is a kind of bizarre confirmation that the studio has finely honed its movies into tableau—the tone may change and the stakes may grow, but the shape is somehow consistent. These movies are satisfying, ruthlessly efficient, mostly unnecessary, but far from unwelcome. What a time to be the most powerful franchise machine in a gasping movie industry.
10. After ‘Ragnarok,’ where do the Thor movies rank among the other MCU franchises?
Ryan: It’s still third behind the Iron Man and Captain America series, but I would take something like this over the bloat of the Avengers movies any day.
Fennessey: Still dead last among the Avengers’ core, but it is nipping at Cap’s heels.
Herman: Of all the Avengers who've merited full spinoff trilogies, it’s still the lowest. The whole reason Ragnarok got made was that nobody cared enough about Thor to get mad about the movie going full spoof.
Surrey: Among Marvel movies with multiple entries, it probably remains the weakest. However, Ragnarok on its own is a top-five Marvel movie, which is enough reason for the God of Thunder to celebrate with one of Doctor Strange’s never-ending pints of beer.
Gruttadaro: One solid movie does not make up for two of the MCU’s weakest entries. The ranking goes: Captain America, Iron Man, Guardians, Thor.